In my guide on how to get flush fitment, I mentioned negative offset wheels, which instigated some questions on social media. So, elaborating on the topic seemed like a good idea.
Are you planning to enter the stance car scene, enhance your truck or off-road rig capabilities, or further explore the wheel offset topic?
No matter the case, this article will shed some light.
You’ll learn the differences between negative and positive offset. We’ll discuss the goals enthusiasts try to achieve and cover the benefits and potential problems of wheels with a negative offset.
Let me start by answering the most common question.
What Does a Negative Offset Mean?
Simply put, a negative offset means your wheels will stick out more.
The offset is determined by the distance from the hub mounting surface to the wheel’s center line. Changing the offset impacts the position of the rim within the wheel well.
When this mounting surface is closer to the back or rear of the wheel, we’re dealing with a negative offset. The result? A wider track, aggressive look, and potentially, a better steering response and stability.
Ever heard of the term ‘deep dish rims’? That’s what negative offset wheels are.
Now, don’t rush to order new wheels just yet. Selecting the wrong offset can trigger some issues, which I’ll talk about later in this post.
No matter what your goals are, the correct offset is crucial. Hence, it’s necessary to understand the difference between a positive, negative, and zero offset.
Positive Vs. Negative Offset Wheel Comparison
A picture is worth a thousand words, they say. That’s also the case when comparing positive and negative offset wheels. Once you understand the difference between these two, it’s easy to figure out what zero offset means.
Negative offset wheels have an unmistakably deep 3D look. They stick out more and are often used for a wider stance fitment. Negative offsets are also preferred by owners of high-performance rear-wheel drive cars, front-wheel drive cars aiming for a wider track, hot rods, or trucks set up for off-roading.
On the other hand, positive offset wheels have the hub-mounting surface closer to the outboard side of the wheel. Positive offset wheels are typically used in front-wheel drive cars and modern rear-wheel drive vehicles. They align with the suspension, preventing tire rub when fitting wider tires.
Let’s get back to our main topic and discuss the pros and cons of negative offset wheels.
Benefits of Installing Negative Offset Wheels
Any wheel fitment significantly different from stock has pros and cons. First, I’ll tell you about the advantages of fitting your vehicle with negative offset wheels.
Aggressive Look and Stance
Besides their functional benefits, negative offset wheels can add a unique aesthetic appeal to your ride. I’ve got some friends in the stance scene, and they all have deep dish wheels. You’ll also see them on most sponsored builds at car shows.
The term’ Deep Dish’ in wheel terminology refers to wider rims with a larger lip between the spokes and the outer edge. A set of deep dish rims is what you need if you aim for a better stance fitment.
Enhanced Traction for FWD Vehicles
One of the key benefits of negative offset wheels is the improved traction they offer, particularly for FWD vehicles. Think of it as getting a better grip on the road, making your car more stable in corners. I’d say that’s a must for folks who like to hit the track.
Bear in mind that not all front-wheel drive cars are compatible with negative offsets. Most have a positive wheel offset, and any drastic changes should be carefully considered. Sometimes, going for a bigger wheel width might be the safer choice.
If you’re an off-road enthusiast, negative offset wheels might be your new best friend. By pushing the wheels further out from the suspension, you widen the track, which translates to an improved off-roading experience.
The wider footprint on the ground gives you a better grip on rough terrains. That’s why many aftermarket wheel manufacturers offer negative offset options targeting off-road enthusiasts.
More Brake Clearance
I’ve installed power adders to several of my cars over the years, and the next upgrade I’d do is a bigger brake kit. That means replacing every component, including brake calipers, pads, rotors, etc.
To fit bigger brakes on your car, you’ll need more clearance, which is achieved by lowering the offset. I usually handle this with high-quality wheel spacers, but using a negative offset wheel is also a solution.
However, I wouldn’t recommend opting in for a negative offset just to fit big brakes.
Potential Problems with Negative Offset Wheels
Like any other drastic change when modifying a car, using negative offset wheels might cause problems. I think it’s a good idea to be familiar with these potential complications before changing your wheel and tire setup.
Tire Rubbing Against the Fender
Fitting rims with negative offset can often result in the tires rubbing against the fenders. It can cause you a lot of trouble, even if you only need a little extra clearance.
I faced that challenge aiming for poke fitment with a staggered wheel setup from BMW 5-series to 3-series. Due to the bigger wheel width, the rear tires would rub on bumps when I have passengers in the back. In my case, a 1-inch coil spring spacer sorted it.
Obviously, if you’re going for a stance fitment, you wouldn’t increase the ride height. In this situation, solving the fender rubbing issue would mean that you need to roll your fenders. Joe Terrell dives deep into the fender rolling in this article.
A very common question I see on car forums is whether negative offset wheels affect handling. Yes, they do. In fact, even a minor change in your offset using spacers will have an impact.
For instance, they can lead to snap oversteer. That means losing the rear-wheel traction while the front-wheel traction is still there. It happens when the center of gravity is moved towards the outside of the vehicle due to the negative offset.
Negative offset wheels can also disrupt the steering geometry by increasing the scrub radius. The consequences are poor handling and more tire wear. As I mentioned, I do have some stance buddies, and they often deal with these issues.
Stress on Suspension Components
Negative offset wheels strain the suspension components, leading to increased wear and tear. The most affected parts include ball joints, tie rods, and bushings, which deteriorate faster than usual. As you probably figured, this will lead to premature failure and costly repairs.
Too Much Dirt and Noise
Last but not least, something for the truck owners in particular. If you plan to fit rims with negative offset and wrap those in off-road tires, be prepared for plenty of dirt on your truck and horrible noise when you get on the highway.
Are Negative Offset Wheels Good or Bad Choice?
As discussed in the article, negative offset wheels can give your vehicle a unique, aggressive look and enhance its performance in certain situations, such as off-roading or race track driving.
On the other hand, they can also present a set of challenges, including handling difficulties, strain on suspension, and rubbing against body components.
I believe there are more potential gains than losses, but that depends on your goals. My tips for successfully utilizing such car modification are:
To carefully consider what you want to achieve.
To take into account your vehicle’s characteristics.
To be prepared to deal with potential implications.
I’m trying to say that you shouldn’t go for negative offset wheels just because they look cool. Suppose you want proper fitment for new aftermarket wheels or extra clearance for bigger brakes. In this case, it’s much cheaper and easier to use wheel spacers rather than offset rims.